From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
IMMEDIATE past governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan yesterday advised his successor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa to be wary of blackmailers whose aim is to pull down the administration.
Okowa and his predecessor have continued to maintain that their relationship was still cordial despite speculations that the two leaders are not in good terms.
Speaking in Asaba as chairman of the Delta State Press Week Lecture on the theme: “Good Governance, Journalists and Social Media,” Uduaghan frowned at the activities of blackmailers who were fond of inundating the social media with unfounded stories.
He said when Okowa assumed office, he addressed the state House of Assembly on the level of financial indebtedness, saying blackmailers took to the social media to report that he (Uduaghan) left a debt of over N700 billion.
“I called for the speech of the governor and I did not see anything like that. Even when they said the initial debt has reduced to about N300 billion and later N200 billion, the impression that was created by the N700 billion debt has already gone out.
“Even for the debt, I believe that they will come down from that N200 billion because I knew where I left it. They should go through the hand over notes I gave when I was going,” he said.
The former governor said the number of whistle blowers and petitions have increased since the Federal Government’s promise incentive of five percent of any recovered stolen funds.
He however lamented that “most of the petitions have no basis,” and advised journalists against taking stories from the social media hook, line and sinker without investigating allegations by blackmailers.
“As journalists, don’t take stories from blackmailers on the social media without investigating if what was posted has basis or not. If you do so, you are a semi blackmailer. So, I urged you to help reduce the benefits that blackmailers are getting.
“Let me also appeal to the state government to take note of blackmailers. I am a man of peace, and I manage this state for eight years. The state government should be careful in managing these blackmailers to avoid security problems,” he cautioned.
The former governor described the social media as a leveller on the ground that everyone irrespective of social, economic and political status, just as he added that social media has helped in keeping leaders on their toes.
“Because of the access, it gives us the opportunity to air our minds, including the good, the bad and the ugly. The other good thing is that it is fast. It has the advantage of being fast, but that speed also has disadvantages. If a wrong message is passed, it sticks, no matter how hard you try to correct it.
“But leaders are being kept on their toes, they must be very careful. Before now, it used to be on the papers which many people do not have access to. The era of social media has made leaders to be accountable,” he said.
In his speech, the South-South Vice President of the NUJ, Mr. Edward Akpati-Ogude, who represented Mr. Waheed Ogunsile, president of the union, said NUJ will continue to partner the government “to ensure we report with firmness and fairness.”